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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

West Indies fritter away good start on day 1

The last five Tests at the Bourda have produced seven centuries and no bowler has taken five wickets in an innings. So it was again on Friday when Carl Hooper won the toss and, unsurprisingly, chose to take first use of the best batting pitch in the Caribbean.

Jamaican opener Chris Gayle top scored with 81 but, on a day when the West Indies should have all but played the tourists out of the match, he set the tone of a "nearly" day by falling for 81 with the home team frittered away a good start to reach 232-7 at stumps.

Marlon Samuels (40) and Brian Lara (47) know better than anyone that they failed to capitalise in superb batting conditions but enormous credit must also go to South Africa after their fightback from 165-2.

Shaun Pollock was sharp enough as captain to abandon the typical South African "three slips, gulley and short leg" policy inside the first hour of play. To describe the strip as a featherbed would probably be unkind to feather beds.

Pollock removed his third slip and placed him at short extra cover. The slower ball followed almost immediately and Wavell Hinds (13) was conned into driving it straight to Nicky Boje to end an opening stand of 43. It was outstanding captaincy, and bowling.

Gayle and Samuels then added 88 for the second wicket and, at times, the words of Sir Vivian Richards the day before - "the West Indies lacks batsmen of real class" - seemed harsh. Gayle used his feet to drive left-arm spinner Nicky Boje for a pair of straight boundaries from successive balls and Samuels, a year younger than Gayle at just 20, seemed utterly at home in the hot seat at number three.

As South Africa tightened the noose with defensive fields and mercilessly accurate bowling, however, Samuels tried to break the deadlock by whipping Boje through the covers. The ball turned past the leading edge to hit middle and off stumps.

At 165-2 the crowd of around 7 000 people started dreaming of the glory years. The two biggest stands at the Bourda are named after Rohan Kanhai and Clive Lloyd, afterall. But Gayle finally lashed at Jacques Kallis' umpteenth delivery wide outside off stump and the faintest edge was taken by Mark Boucher making the SA 'keeper the fastest ever to 150 dismissals in his 38th Test.

Lara, too, lost patience and he evidently hated himself for it after launching Lance Klusener high, and then higher, to mid off where Allan Donald took a gutsy, vital catch. Klusener's medium paced off-cutters did an outstanding job for his country and his analysis, for once, did him some justice.

Ramnaresh Sarwan became hopelessly bogged down against Klusener spending 39 deliveries scratching around on four before stealing a single to the sarcastic applause of his home crowd. Donald returned to the attack and put him out of his misery with a fine yorker. It was euthenasia.

Ridley Jacobs missed a shin high full toss next ball and suddenly the home side were in disarray. Carl Hooper tried his best to sheep-dog the tailenders into some kind of order but Klusener skidded another delivery from Nixon Mclean's bat onto the stumps and the Windies and well and truly blown what should have been a dominant day.

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